Iconic rock posts and arches jutting up from the sand along the Washington coast are what define the Olympic National Park's beaches. A dozen beaches provide endless exploration for hikers and distinctive foregrounds for sunset gawkers and photographers. The sea stacks, stumps, and islands also provide a necessary refuge for birds and aquatic wildlife.

Where to See Sea Stacks

The bucket-list destination is at the northern end of the park - Point of Arches on Shi Shi Beach. Checking off this view requires an 8-mile out and back hike, half of it through a dense forest.

Exploring sea stacks takes less effort at the southern beaches, many of which include parking lots and restroom facilities. Our favorites include Rialto Beach (easily accessible for sunsets from Forks, Washington), Ruby Beach (north of Kalaloch Lodge), and South Beach.

How Sea Stacks are Formed

Water is a powerful thing. Waves crashing against headlands erode the rock. First caves are formed. Then when the caves break through to the other side, the formation becomes an arch. Finally, when the center of the arch collapses, it forms a sea stack.

Need an Olympic National Park map? Buy the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Olympic National Park map at REI.com. The map includes clearly marked trails and points of interest such as scenic views, campgrounds, trailheads, boat launches, picnic sites, ranger stations and more printed on waterproof, tear-resistant material.

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Sea Star Ochre at Olympic National Park

Explore Tide Pools at Olympic National Park's Coast

During low tides, the Pacific Ocean retreats from the beaches and exposes pools of water in rocky crevices that team with sea life.

Ochre starfish and anemones in a tide pool on Olympic National Park's Pacific Coast

Visit a National Marine Sanctuary on Olympic National Park's Coast

Explore the tide pools or surf on Olympic's beaches. But, what many visitors don't know is that they are at a national marine sanctuary.

Sea Otter

Sea Otters on the Olympic Coast

These lovable marine mammals can be found on the Pacific coast from Alaska to northern California, including Olympic National Park.

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park's Sol Duc Valley

Called the most beautiful falls in Olympic, the hike to the falls is a short and easy one. Walk one mile through old-growth forest to the overlook.

Kayaking on lake in Olympic National Park.

A Perfect Day in Olympic National Park

Got 24 hours? Get the most out of them with this guide.

Storm waves on the Pacific Ocean at the beach

Winter Storm Watching on Olympic Coast

73 miles of coastline turn into a wave crashing show in the winter. From Nov through Feb, storms coming in from the Pacific have wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Olympic Coast Sea Stacks. Photo by Justin Bailie

10 Best Things to Do on an Olympic National Park Vacation

Olympic National Park and the surrounding areas are a Things to Do Mecca! You’ll be hard-pressed to fit it all in a single vacation.

Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park Ecosystem Zones

Olympic National Park contains four distinct and remarkable ecosystems—and even better, it’s possible to see all four in one day.

The Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park

4 Rainforests of Olympic National Park

The west-side area of this national park is one of the best places in the world to see a temperate rainforest ecosystem.